Friday, July 11, 2014

Giveaway: Prozac Baby

Disclosure: I received complimentary products to facilitate this post. All opinions are my own.

There is a lot of concern with drugs taken by mothers during pregnancy and how that affects the placenta. When it comes to antidepressants, it can be difficult to weigh the balance between the mental and emotional health of the mother and the potential risks to the unborn baby. A new book, Prozac Baby, takes a unique look at the debate from the point-of-view of the developing baby, weaving in the mother's concerns in a diary of sorts.

I have the chance to give away several copies of this book. Because of the sensitive nature of this book, to enter you can email me or leave a comment. Deadline is July 15th. You can learn more in the trailer and interview below.

1.     What was the inspiration behind this book?
For almost 30 years, I have been counselling pregnant women with depression who are afraid to take their medications, believing they may harm the baby. In many cases, women even consider termination of a wanted pregnancy due to these fears. As a healthcare professional, I discuss options with pregnant women that gives them the support they need, including how to maintain medications they need, mostly Prozac and its equivalents (the Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors – SSRIs). One day sitting there with a woman I thought to myself: what is the baby thinking now? Then the book wrote itself.

2.     Can you share tips for mothers-to-be who are on medications for mental health issues and how they can sort out the facts from the fiction?
An estimated 10-15% of pregnant women suffer from depression. Many of them need medications. The SSRIs have been studied in numerous papers, and the overall agreement is that their benefits by far outweigh any theoretical risk. The media tends to highlight misleading news stories rather than the many good new studies on these medications.

Women should talk to their primary physicians and psychiatrists, and should not abruptly stop their medications. As happened to the mother in my book, Prozac Baby, it is important to find professional, unbiased experts to answer these questions. The Motherisk program is always happy to answer these calls.

3.     How can women support friends who may be pregnant and on mental health medications?
Friends often tell women with depression, "don't take anything- it can harm the baby- why should you take a risk?" Friends and family should remember that untreated depression can be life threatening. Suicide is a major cause of death among young women, and untreated depression is the main cause of suicide. So, encourage your friend with depression to talk to her primary physician or psychiatrist, and not to take abrupt steps that may endanger herself and her baby.
Contact the Motherisk Program:
Helpline: 1-877-439-2744 (Monday-Friday, 9 am to 5 pm EST.)
 Information Helpline: 1-416-813-6780 (9 am to 5 pm EST—Information about the risk or safety of prescription and over-the-counter drugs, herbal products, chemicals, x-rays, chronic disease and infections, and everyday exposures during pregnancy and while breastfeeding)

About Gideon Koren:
Gideon Koren MD, FRCPC, FACMT is a Canadian pediatrician, toxicologist and clinician scientist. In parallel to his academic career at the Hospital for Sick Children and the University of Toronto, Koren is a well-established, award winning composer and author in his native Israel. He is a Professor of Pediatrics, Pharmacology, Pharmacy and Medical Genetics at the University of Toronto, a Visiting Professor at Tel Aviv University, and the Ivey Chair in Molecular Toxicology at Western University. He is the author of over 1,500 peer review papers and 15 medical books. In 1985, he founded The Motherisk Program, which he continues to direct. Motherisk counsels women, their families and health professionals on the safety-risks of drugs, chemicals, radiations and infections during pregnancy and lactation. The research group headed by Koren is studying the fetal effects of drugs and chemicals, as well as the effects of medications and toxins in infants and children. Through over 500 research papers on drugs in pregnancy, Koren has identified drugs and chemicals that are damaging to the fetus (e.g., organic solvents, corticosteroids, lithium, misoprostol) and those that are safe to take (e.g., calcium channel blockers, Prozac, doxylamine-pyridoxine).

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